Amoris Laetitia 311: The Highest Gospel Values

amoris laetitia memeIs the Church’s integrity on moral teaching harmed when other aspects are emphasized? Many people would answer affirmatively. Often enough, the personal encounter with a minister of the Church is full enough of charity and mercy. Many good people who adhere strongly to Church teaching indeed manage to put a charitable and gentle face on their accompaniment of sinners. Often enough, such encounters are out of the public eye. We know neither how truly pastoral these encounters are, nor what (if any) accommodations were made. It would seem that “confusion” is sown when details get public and particular decisions get criticized.

311. The teaching of moral theology should not fail to incorporate these considerations, for although it is quite true that concern must be shown for the integrity of the Church’s moral teaching, special care should always be shown to emphasize and encourage the highest and most central values of the Gospel,(Evangelii Gaudium 36-37) particularly the primacy of charity as a response to the completely gratuitous offer of God’s love. At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity.*

Pope Francis offers a lengthy note on this:

*Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall “should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution” (Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum on the occasion of the Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary [22 March 1996], 5).

We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel. It is true, for example, that mercy does not exclude justice and truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth. For this reason, we should always consider “inadequate any theological conception which in the end puts in doubt the omnipotence of God and, especially, his mercy”.(International Theological Commission, The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized (19 April 2007), 2)

Agree or disagree?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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